Why Working at the Office is Cheaper in Winter 2022

The Coronavirus pandemic ushered in a world of remote work that initially seemed to be here to stay. Remote work was popular among many employees due to the cheaper cost of living and their perception that it improved their work-life balance, even though critics voiced concerns about damage to company culture. In fact, working remotely was so popular that one 2021 survey 40% of workers said that they would consider leaving their job if their employer made them return to the office full time.

However, as we move into the autumn and winter of 2022, the situation looks set to change dramatically. The cost of living crisis is in full swing, with energy bills, food, and fuel costs growing alarmingly high. It's expected that the average yearly energy bill will rise to more than £3,500 when the price cap rises in October, and the cost is expected to increase again in January.

With the cost of heating and powering a home office growing extraordinarily expensive, the popularity of remote and hybrid working throughout the pandemic looks ready to end. Many hybrid and remote employees will be hoping to return to the office full-time this autumn and winter to take advantage of the cost savings compared to working from home.

In this article, we'll explore the reasons that commuting to the office will be saving employees money this winter and consider how businesses, whose energy expenses are not capped, can save money on the office, too.

Energy bills

With the new energy price cap estimate of £3,582 a year expected to rise further in January, working from home is becoming increasingly expensive. As the days get colder and shorter, workers will need to rely more on their heating and lighting to sustain their remote working, but this will mean spending increasing amounts of money on bills.

According to calculations by Startups, the average UK employee who works from home five days a week will spend £77 per month on energy bills, or £3.85 per working day, even when accounting for the £400 discount provided by the government. It is predicted that this cost could rise to more than £90 after the cap rises in January.

Heating makes up the majority of this cost, with high heating costs being exacerbated by old and faulty boilers, poor home insulation, and other inefficiencies. Electricity use also adds up, with the costs of running desktop PCs, using lights as the days get shorter and darker, and even running a kettle all contributing to the high costs as well.


For many employees, the decision of whether to commute to the office or work remotely from home comes down to the method and cost of their commute.

Using Office for National Statistics data, Startups have calculated that commuting to work by car will be cheaper than remote work from October for workers in every major UK city except London. Even with rising fuel prices, employees will be saving money by driving to their workplace five days a week.

London is the exception, possibly because office workers tend to live farther from their office in the capital and therefore the fuel costs for commutes are high. To make sure they are saving money by commuting to the office, London workers should opt for walking or cycling where possible or choose the bus instead of the more expensive car or tube journeys.

Equipment and services

Another thing to keep in mind is the cost of the equipment and services that employees need for remote work. High-speed broadband is a necessity, but with rapid inflation this can become an expensive cost. Printing is another that can add up quickly if you have to pay for it yourself.

And, don't forget those other household expenses that are increased by remote work. The tea and coffee that your workplace normally provides for free, office supplies, and more.

However, it's also important to weigh these against the auxiliary costs that can be saved by remote work. With childcare and food prices so high, for some workers it will make sense to reduce spending on these other costs by staying at home.

How much can employees save by commuting to the office?

With all of these expenses taken into account, it's no surprise that research by Startups has calculated that for employees everywhere except for London, commuting to the workplace will save them an average of £21.16 a month, and £35.76 from January. With every penny counting towards increasingly high food prices, these cost savings can make a real difference for some employees.

For employees within London, the savings produced by going to the office depend on how much money the worker usually spends on their commutes. Due to the high prices of the tube or fuel expenses, tube and car commuters may save more money by being remote employees, while bus commuters in London will be saving money by returning to the office from January onwards. Employees who commute on foot or by bicycle have the greatest potential savings from returning to the office.

The most cost-effective office spaces this winter

With no caps on the energy prices paid by businesses and many workers eager to return to the office, it's important that employers find the most cost-effective office spaces. Some small businesses are even facing a 400% increase in energy costs, with many business owners expressing worries about the coming winter.

To cut down on utility bill payments and avoid the uncertainty of the coming months, many employers are considering managed offices, serviced offices, or coworking offices. In these flexible office spaces, unlike a traditional office lease, the provider is responsible for paying energy bills rather than the occupier. This means that the occupier only has to pay a single fixed fee per month that covers rent, bills, and other amenities.

What is a serviced office space?

A serviced office space is an all-inclusive, fully-equipped office that in run by a provider. Kitted out with all the furniture you need, plus high-speed Wi-Fi, amenities, and more, serviced offices are ready for immediate move-in. The fee is usually priced by the number of desks and is paid monthly, covering rent, utility bills, cleaning, maintenance, and much more. This means that the provider handles everything for the client. As a result, serviced offices are a great way to save money.

For more information about serviced offices, read our explainer here.

What is a managed office space?

A managed office space is somewhere between a serviced office and a traditional office lease. It is still a space that is managed by a provider for an all-inclusive fee each month, but the space can be customised to the client's requirements before move-in. This includes the furniture, layout, and design of the bespoke space. Often, managed office spaces are priced by square foot, rather than number of desks.

To learn more about managed office spaces and whether they're suitable for your team, read our explainer here.

What is a coworking office?

Unlike serviced and managed offices which provide a private space for your employees to work in, coworking offices are shared office spaces where you pay for your desk and use communal amenities such as toilets, meeting rooms, kitchens, and breakout spaces. Like serviced offices, coworking spaces have everything you need to work: high-speed broadband, furniture, and other facilities. Because these offer communal rather than private work spaces, these are a very cost-effective solution.

Find out more about coworking spaces by reading our explainer here.

Benefits of flexible office spaces

Fixed monthly fees

While some of the rising cost of energy will undoubtedly be passed on to occupiers, the organisations can benefit from lower and fixed prices with greater levels of certainty about future fees. This makes budgeting and planning ahead easier for employers who are worried about steep energy price hikes.

Flexible contracts

Offering short-term contracts that are more flexible than traditional office leases, flexible office spaces are ideal for employers that don't know where they'll be or how much space they'll need in six months' time. Worried about committing to a contract you won't be able to afford later in the winter? Flexible month-to-month contracts in a managed or serviced office space can solve this problem.

Only pay for what you use

One of the best features of flexible office spaces is that employers are only spending money on the facilities that they actually need. With many contracts priced by the desk, you're only paying for the exact amount of space that is necessary for your business. This helps keep expenses to a minimum.

Better commute options

Often located in proximity to good public transport links, many managed offices and serviced offices are cycle friendly, with bike storage facilities and showers so employees can freshen up at the start of the work day. This means that employees are more able to commute cheaply, taking advantage of the office to reduce their expenses at home.

Consider a virtual office

If expenses are rising too rapidly to keep spending money on your office's energy bills, there's another option: virtual offices. These allow employers to maintain a physical postal address in a great location without having to continue paying for an office space -- ideal for organisations whose employees want the cost saving benefits of working remotely. For a very small fee each month, virtual offices provide a useful business address with some also including mail handling and forwarding, phone answering, and secretarial duties. If the expense of an office becomes too high this winter, virtual offices are a suitable option for employers who want to maintain a physical office address despite a fully remote working team.


Although at the start of the pandemic working remotely was estimated to save employees nearly £500 a month, the current cost of living crisis is making remote work an increasingly expensive option. Employers should expect an increased demand for office work this autumn and winter, with many employees choosing the commute over spending large amounts of money on electricity and heating bills. However, employers also need to prepare for the rising costs of running a business, with no price cap on their company's energy bills.

Looking for a more cost-effective office? Future Squared can help.

We're an office brokerage specialising in flexible and creative workspaces, matching businesses with the most budget-friendly serviced offices, managed offices, coworking offices, virtual offices and more.

Use our office search to find the locations on offer in your preferred area, and filter by bike racks, kitchen facilities, showers, BREEAM status, or other features to find your perfect office.

Want to learn more about how the right office can save your business money this winter? Contact us today.